Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson-R held a virtual town hall, Monday evening, to inform her constituents of a Prince William Comprehensive Plan amendment to bring suburban housing to the rural area along the Vint Hill corridor in Bristow and Nokesville.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote on changes to the Comp Plan on Tuesday, and Lawson encouraged constituents to show up and tell the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to choose the plan that would have the lowest impact on their communities, Alternative 1. Alternative 1 would bring 600+ new homes to the Vint Hill area. In comparison, Alternative 3 would bring almost 11 times that number.
The Comp Plan guides development in the county but does not guarantee the development will come to fruition, only that developers would have an easier time getting their plans approved.
The areas that would be affected are located on both sides of Vint Hill from Sudley Manor Drive west to Rollins Ford Road, including directly west of Braemar, and back from Patriot High School back to the Nokesville Fitzwater area.
Lawson said the board was not amenable to leaving the land rural at one home per 10 acres, so density will inevitably change. She recommends people advocate for Alternative 1, which already exists in the comprehensive plan. It will have the least impact on schools and roads and preserve the rural area.
Alternative 1 involves clustering 600+ single-family homes near Braemar and 60% open space as per a conservation easement. Homes would be clustered closer together in keeping with surrounding neighborhoods in the Linton Hall corridor.
The plan translates to approximately 10,000 vehicles per day on Sudley Manor Drive and Rollins Ford Road. County staff expects 450+ new K-12 students, but schools may be able to absorb them.
In a straw poll, most supervisors voted for Alternative 2, seeing it as a compromise. That proposal would bring 3,400 homes and the rural area would be gone. The average density is one home per 2 acres, both single-family homes, and townhomes.
The highest density would be adjacent to Braemar on the development side of Vint Hill. Single-family homes of “higher” density would be located on the southeast side of Vint Hill and lower-density homes would be situated closer to the Fitzwater area in Nokesville, where there are already homes built on less than 10-acre lots.
This plan would bring an estimated 22-25,000 vehicles per day on Vint Hill Road, Rollins Ford Road and Sudley Manor Drive, respectively (not combined.)
Alternative 2 would bring an estimated 2,400 additional K-12 students to Brentsville-area schools. An expansion of existing schools would be needed, at least, and possibly new schools would need to be built. In the meantime, Lawson expects schools would be overcrowded and students would once again be learning in trailers or “learning cottages.”
Alternative 3 is the highest density option and the one that, according to Lawson, Chair Ann Wheeler prefers. If approved, it would bring in 6,500 homes. It would increase traffic to 45-58,000 trips per day on each of the three major roads in the corridor, making them essentially as well-traveled as Sudley Road.
Essentially, the entire area would match Braemar with the “highest” density suburban residential housing, meaning townhomes and closely situated single-family homes. The rural area would be gone.
The plan would bring 4,800 K-12 students. New schools would definitely be needed on all levels.
This alternative has the least support on the board, but it does have the support of landowners who could come out to speak at the meeting, making it appear that a majority of constituents approve of the plan.
RESULTS OF HIGH-DENSITY DEVELOPMENT
Lawson said the problem with building new developments is that development comes before infrastructure. New students will arrive before schools for them are built. Traffic will precede road expansions.
Developers proffer land but they do not pay for the building of schools or the hiring of new staff. Typically, suburban development homes cost the taxpayers money since it brings in many public school students The smaller the property, the more tax-negative it can be.
Lawson said that the Brentsville and Gainesville District has just moved beyond the days when schools were severely overcrowded. She lamented that the other supervisors would not acknowledge that Brentsville and Gainesville have borne the greatest amount of development in the past two decades.
However, unlike most areas of the county, the Brentsville and Gainesville districts have room to grow, so other supervisors are pushing for growth in the rural area, especially as landowners would like to sell to developers at a handsome profit.
Lawson voiced her frustration with the board, which residents echoed.
Lawson did acknowledge a COG analysis predicting the need for more housing. According to The Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s 2018 COG analysis, DC and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs would need to add 690,000 units by 2045 to close the housing gap. That is more than 100,000 more than previously predicted.
WHAT CAN RESIDENTS DO?
Lawson urged residents to tell the board of county supervisors to choose Alternative 1. She said that they can email them, but it would have more impact if people showed up to the meeting in person. If supervisors do not hear from people, they may assume Brentsville residents are okay with the plan. In truth, many most people do not know much about the Comp Plan.
Lawson said residents continue to stress they do not want more homes built. In a Prince William County community survey residents voted that rural conservation is important to them. Even residents who live in the development area say they appreciate it.
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Friday, December 9, 2022 Report this